Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quoth the Raven

Today was a rainy and dreary day. Kira was actually home this weekend, and not at her dad's, so I thought it was a perfect time to have a mother-daughter outing. We spent the morning shopping for her new swimsuit (and I bought myself a glittery pair of flipflops), and getting Easter basket goodies for the little kids. Then, after lunch, we made our way downtown to thePoe Museum in the city.

Kira has been studying Edgar Allan Poe in her English class this year. She has developed a love for the dark, haunting stories and poetry, especially 'The Raven' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Most people associate Poe with Baltimore, but really, he has a much more significant history here in central Virginia -- in Richmond, specifically.

The museum is located in the oldest building in Richmond -- a house built in the early 1700's, and later given to the museum to house the collections about Poe and his life.

The museum is made up of several buildings clustered around a walled garden that contains the Poe Shrine.
The walled garden, facing the shrine.

The main building holds the gift shop and a small exhibit of furniture and paintings. Two other buildings hold a huge model of Richmond as it appeared during Poe's life, his first-edition books, some family artifacts and clothing, and lots and lots of information and details about his life that I had no idea about. Of course, I couldn't take any photographs of the artifacts or the insides of the buildings, but I took as many shots of the outsides of the period structures as I could.

The back of the main house, which contains the gift shop and some offices.

Kira ponders the gardens

From the inside of the Poe Shrine

We really enjoyed our visit here, and although the museum was small, there were so many interesting things to see and read about that it was well worth the time and small admission fee.

Afterward, I took Kira to Richmond Hill, a few blocks away, to show her one of my favorite views of the city. It was starting to rain, with the significant warning for sever weather, so we ran up several flights of concrete stairs that went straight up the side of the hill to see this:

It started to thunder and lightning shortly after I took these pictures, so we quickly made our way down the hill and made it into the car JUST as the downpour began!

A few blocks away is St. John's Episcopal Church, where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, and also where Poe's mother is buried. I really, really want to see this church, so it will have to be next on my tourist agenda.

I love my adopted hometown of Richmond, Virginia. This place is so very full of history and art and culture and science! So many terrific restaurants, so many great outdoor spaces to play in, it's hard to see and do everything. It's a great place to live.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What to do with a rainy Tuesday....

...take out your umbrellas...

...maybe swing in the hammock...

...dig in the dirt...

...relax and enjoy it...and read about gardening...and promise yourself you'll be a more diligent gardener this year...but mostly, relax...

(oh, and maybe do some laundry)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Most of you who know me know that I was a dancer. I trained long and hard for the art; I adored it, lived it, ate, slept, breathed, and was consumed by it. I never realized until I was much older and had left that life behind just how much it mattered on an almost biological level. While I have always been (and continue to be) an emotional person, it was in the power of music and in movement that I could center myself. I could find equilibrium and strength.

Science tells us that we are neurologically affected by external stimuli. Music, in particular, can influence our state of being in such a way as to alter mood and affect. Anyone who loves music certainly knows this; anyone who listens to any music is generally aware of how they feel listening to music they hate, versus music they love. Keen music-lovers can even do what some therapists have been doing and knowing for some time -- that you can 'force' a particular state of being using music -- make yourself happier or more upbeat-feeling with music you love that has a good rhythm, or put yourself in an active alert state ( to get ready for a competition, or particular task that requires focus) using certain types of sound.

I love to listen to music when I am doing something meditative or particularly active. Of course, when I work out (ha! rarely!), music makes it go much better, pushes me harder, makes me really work hard. I love it; it's almost like a high. When I am doing something like working over the glass torch, the mood I am in prior to sitting down determines what kind of music I listen to.

To concentrate, to really focus, I will use my favorite classical composers, or world music, or mellow stuff like Van Morrison or Indigo Girls or Kenny Loggins. If I want to feel like a total bad-ass, then Evanescence and Green Day and Fall Out Boy comes on the player. I have to admit to wanting to feel like a bad-ass more often lately, and surprisingly, I can really, really focus when liquifying my brains with some really loud, hard, driving music.

Sometimes, when the music is loud, and directly in my head, I want to reach out and pull the sound around me like a cloak, and become it. I imagine it like black silk velvet. I want to sink into it, swim in it-- like it's a pool --and be drowned in the sound and the words and the energy of it all. It's like a hunger, like a need....I remember how it felt to literally be moved by music, to be able to interpret and understand every note, and to wring the feeling out of it. I don't think I can even adequately describe the perfect feeling of power and grace and strength that can come from this experience. It's like having the ability to control *everything* in your world just for a brief period of time.There really aren't words for it, not at all.

Have you ever felt that? I'm not talking about being at a concert or something, and feeling the bass in your chest, or having to shout at your companions to make any kind of conversation. I am talking about becoming the music and hearing it in your soul, and wanting to, having to MOVE or SING or something, just do SOMETHING with that energy.

(Yeah, don't stand outside my house when I am working at the torch -- I can't sing to save my everlovin' soul, but I sure know how to sing loudly.)

I miss being able to feel in control of the universe in a way I can't really define. That kind of power is inherent in music for me, and in the dance I no longer have the ability to perform. I realized the other day that a short time spent with good music really is a tonic for the soul and I was able to completely change my mood for the entire day with one musically-driven glassworking session. Even now, as I write this I am listening to music (Better Than Ezra, "Extraordinary" at the moment) and I am feeling pretty darn fine.

Try it. I dare ya. Lose yourself in your favorite music the next time you feel crummy or have something not-fun to do, and see what happens.

(Ok, now it's Cake, "The Distance")

Friday, April 8, 2011


Today is a day when I certainly feel how far from twenty I really am. Several essential body parts have been hurting in one form or another since I got out of bed.

Oh I hear, ya, all of you 'older' people....I know, I know...

It started with the crackling of my neck and spine, which sounds like a zipper being pulled up, one of those super-chunky plastic sport zips with the big teeth. *crrrrick* The official term for it is 'crepitus', which sounds a lot more like 'crap, it's crushed' or something. All of my joints crack now, and I guess if I were to have personal entrance music, that would be it: the sound of a thousand bowls of Rice Krispies all being filled with milk, all at once. Thankfully, I've never had surgery on any of my really important joints, but it IS annoying to have most of my movements accompanied by a symphony of biological noises.

I'm moving incredibly slowly today. And I'm tired.

Usually I don't feel any different than I did way back when I was young(er) and indestructible. Apparently today is the payback for all the hours-long dance classes and grueling rehearsals, throwing myself around, staying up all night, drinking too much, not eating. There are probably only a finite number of floor slides, falls, and overreaching leaps that a body can take. I was too busy pushing the limits of my physical self to try to remember that my body was an instrument or a temple.

Today the temple looks like I've been worshipping at the altar of Too Much Chocolate, Not Enough Working Out.

When I do work out, my right hip complains loudly, and it sounds much like the joint is being disassembled and then reassembled...a loud *THUNK* and the ligaments slip over the ball of the joint, and then *THUNK* as it slips back. For that, I can blame three pregnancies, and not so much excessive dancing. I think.

My husband has had five knee surgeries. I can't really complain too much, because even when I have a day of pain, at least I can still walk and get around and do what I need to do. When HE has a bad knee day, he can barely walk.

I'm trying to learn to age gracefully, because it's what I want to do and because I think accepting the inevitable is sometimes far more healthy than trying to fight it every step of the way. I can't really relate to those women who have all kinds of plastic surgery done to remove wrinkles and lift and tuck this or that. After a while I doubt they even look or feel *real* anymore. I can't grasp why anyone would artificially tan themselves and end up looking not like a bronze goddess, but like an old handbag. My single concession to vanity in my aging process is hair color, because at almost-41, my hair is more than 50% grey, and I am not ready to give up my hair color. The beauty of it is, though, that the excessive grey gives me beautiful natural-looking highlights when I color, without doing anything special besides slapping the coloring goop on.

I wish I could lose weight easily, though. I realize I would have to exercise to a level I don't know if I can manage, OR stop eating anything that is any good, or soul-filling, in order to get down to a weight I can honestly say I like.

So I waver between significant bouts of terrible insecurity about myself on this journey of getting older, and moments of true self-acceptance in which I am happy with the reflection that gazes back at me in my mirror.

Since time is going to march on regardless of what I do or do not do, or what I think about any of it, I suppose the healthier, happier path would be to extend those moments of self-acceptance into days and weeks and years.

I'll try.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Spring has arrived in Virginia, and we have had several glorious days of sunshine and warm temperatures. So wonderful after months of cold and rain and snow!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Got my hair cut today after letting it grow out waaaay too long. What is it with all the men who seem to think all women need to have long hair? If they want long hair, they can grow their own hair out. Fine with me. I, however, am cute as hell with this haircut, and people can just deal with it.


The weather has been especially changeable today, and over the course of the last six hours, we have had cold, grey skies, BRILLIANT sunshine, and a torrential downpour that lasted about ten minutes before the brilliant sunshine returned, along with giant puffy clouds and a crisp blue sky. One of my favorite things is when the sky is a deep dark slate grey in one direction, and the sun is shining in the other direction.
I love how it brings the bare branches of the trees into sharp relief, and makes the green of the new leaves a rich shade of emerald. I'm not accomplished enough a photographer to really do it justice, but trust me, it's beautiful.

Today I am cutting up scraps of mat board and going nuts with the gesso in preparation for several mixed-media art pieces I am going to do for the 6x6x2011 exhibit and sale at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center in Rochester, NY. I don't know when I will be able to get the works done, but I am hoping for some uninterrupted time next week to work on them. I'm really excited about my ideas, and I hope they turn out the way I see them in my mind's eye.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Sometimes you just have to put the glasses on the dog.

Time and Space

Each day slips past the previous one, turning into weeks and months and year, until finally decades have gone by and you turn around and realize just how far you've come. The road ahead seems shorter than you remember it being, while the road behind rises and falls, looms and recedes, depending on your memories and perspective.

Once it seemed everything was before me, and now, I'm halfway to There, wherever that is.

I seem to have lost my road map, even as I know I have the things I've always wanted. Sometimes when you get There (or closer to it than you've ever been), you can't remember how you arrived, or why it was so important to reach the destination anyway. And then it all seems fixed, and unchangeable, and you feel the cold trickle of regret seep in over decisions you made way early in the game, when you didn't really know just how high the stakes were.

The truth, that nobody tells you when you're busy making Plans and Deciding Important Details, is that even halfway to There, wherever that is, you can still jump ship, switch horses, follow that other drummer you've been listening to for years. You can find that teeny tiny skinny little red line on the map and go for it, take it and see where it leads. Of course, it's hard to believe that, when you're mired in the details of daily life as it is. Some people never take this lesson to heart, but others, well...others take it a little too close to heart, and the fallout is catastrophic.

Strive to make the fallout less than catastrophic.

It frightens me significantly that I have only a finite amount of time left, that there are things I will never do again, options that I no longer open to me, people I have seen for the last time, places I will never revisit, and experiences that are over and done for good.

Perspective is knowing that half is still a lot, and it maybe even more than that. That repeating some experiences is not what I really want to do -- because they weren't really all that great in the first place. People who have gone were only supposed to be around for a short time. Experiences I have now are far richer for my having the freedom gained of years to fully immerse myself in them. The stakes are high and life is for living and I am an adult and I can do what I want to, regardless of the opinions of others. What an incredible relief it is to know that I am my own person, truly, and that the road ahead is wide and still long.

There's all the time in the world.